There’s more than one reason why strongman competitors are so very tall.

Isn’t it odd that many champion powerlifters aren’t all that tall, yet when it comes to strongman athletes, it’s not uncommon for them to exceed 6’5?

Strongman champions Mike Jenkins and Brian Shaw stand 6-6 and 6-8 tall, respectively.

They aren’t exactly oddballs in this sport, either.Though many strongmen competitors are quite tall, there are exceptions, such as great strongman champion Mariusz Pudzianowski, whose height is listed at six feet or 6-1 (depending on source).

Fitness forums are replete with debates over which height has the advantage in weightlifting, with many tall trainees insisting that their height is an impediment, while many trainees in general believe that being short allows people to lift more weight.

Where are the 5-7 strongman competitors?

There are 12 strongman events:

Atlas stone, axle press, car flip, deadlift, dumbbell press, fingal’s finger, frame carry, keg toss, log press, squat, tire flip, yoke.

Being very tall is a big advantage in the following strongman events:

Atlas stone, car flip, fingal’s finger, keg toss and tire flip. That’s five of 12 events, and some experts would even say that being extra tall is an advantage in the yoke-carry due to fewer strides from longer legs.

Atlas Stone (top image)

The strongman competitor must pick up several spherical stones, successively placing each one on top of pillars, and each preceding pillar is shorter.

The shorter the strongman is, the more he has to go up on his toes to get the stone on the two highest pillars.

The taller strongman does not need to do as much overhead hoisting; the pillar lineup is the same height for all the athletes.

To make this very clear, imagine that a strongman competitor is only five feet tall.

He’d have to raise the very heavy stone completely over his head with straight arms to get it on top of the highest pillar, and likely on his toes at that.

A seven footer would only have to lift it as high as his neck for the highest pillar, feet flat on the ground.

This doesn’t mean that the very tall strongman is stronger — in the absolute sense — than the shorter man; the issue is biomechanics, not absolute strength.

Furthermore, taller athletes have longer arms; this means more arm to wrap around the stone when picking it up and carrying it to the pillars!

Car Flip and Tire Flip

The taller you are, the less you have to push above head level to knock over the car, and a tall competitor doesn’t need to push as much upward as the shorter man to flip a tire.

A push that’s closer to horizontal than vertical or upward is easier to do because it involves more chest muscle.

Fingal’s Finger

Being very tall is a major advantage here. On the ground are long, very heavy finger-like cylinders.

Artur Andrzej, CC

The athlete picks one up at the end and pushes it to a vertical position, then continues pushing it to knock it over.

A short person will have to spend more time pushing it up to vertical. Envision a 3 foot tall man doing this with a 15 foot long finger, then imagine a 10 foot tall man pushing up a 15 foot long finger. The advantage is crystal clear.

Keg Toss

The taller the strongman, the less distance he needs to toss the keg to get it over a very high bar.

He stands, back facing a very high bar, grabs a keg and (picture the “kettlebell swing”), tosses it up and over his head, high up in the air, to clear the bar.

A 6-8 man has eight inches less of tossing height to contend with than a six-foot-even man.

And there’s more: The taller the athlete, the longer the arms, meaning the greater the torque when tossing.

With a taller frame comes more body weight, which helps out in towing/pulling events.

Now you know why being extra tall is a big advantage for strongman competitors, and that’s why strongman competitors tend to be very tall.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 
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